Because school and forensics took over for the majority of the year, I was not on top of making anything for HSF up until now (literally). I just cranked out a new Regency Gown in 5 weekends. I’m quite pleased with it. However, I cannot figure out which of the challenges that have occurred so far it would fit into. Boo. I think, therefore, I’m planning ahead for HSF #21 Re-do.

Here is a picture of the gown:

Cat 5

Why I made it: I needed a middle class gown of dirt/grime color so that it would not show the dirt/grime too much when I walked through mud, dust, and accidentally carried a dirt pot against the front. There are zero trimmings or anything fancy because it is worn for work in a tavern.

Things to note: All but the parts that are gathered on the waist band are hand sewn. I’m a purist, but two double running stitches on the machine is so fast. The fabric is a lightweight striped linen. I wore it for the first time and one of the days was about 80 degrees or so and I found the entire ensemble to be comfortable.

Now that I wore the dress for two solid days, I realized some alterations need to occur. This is the first time I will be taking apart bits and pieces and slashing fabric to get rid of it. In the following pictures, I will note my modification plans.

1. The back

Back of Cat's dress


Problem: Because my underbust is so tiny (read: 31 inches), everything slips down, including the waist ties. For the picture, my photographer moved them up to where the *should* be, but within a a few minutes of moving/walking, the ties slide down a good three or more inches.

Solution: The updated pattern from Reconstructing History has added loops, two on either side, to help keep waist ties up at the proper height. (We were going to sew some this weekend, but never got around to it).

This is not really a problem, just something I noticed: the small bodice back piece sits much lower on me than the one on my other dress. I can’t figure out why. It’s not getting moved because overall, the top of this dress is very comfy.

2. The front

Fireside chat


Overall, the proper silhouette is achieved. I like it a lot.

Problem 1: the bib piece is too large. The pattern piece is humongous!! And I cut my fabric much smaller than the original pattern piece too. Alas, as is obvious from the photo, the girls, are small. I’m wearing late 18th century transitional stays and while they lift, they also squash, making me even more flat chested.

Solution 1: I’m going to chop off the top and sides of the bib again. Or I could make little teeny pleats. I can’t decide. That was my original idea, but then I was like meh. So I’m still undecided. But I will definitely be cutting a good inch or two off the top so that when I pin it in place, it also raises where the waist band sits under my bust.


Problem 2: When I made my first Regency gown, I hemmed it well above the ground. Though when I made this one, I thought, no I want the skirt longer. However, looking at this photo, it looks too long. Grrrrr!!!!!!

Solution 2: I’m going to put it one or two tucks. I like the way they look, but I’m just nervous about making them even and symmetrical all the way around. (I’m also a perfectionist when it comes to these little things).

Problem 3: Thought is it not too terribly visible in this photo because of how I have my arms positioned, my fabric is too wide on the top of the front panel. I have serious gathers and it goes well behind my arm pits when I wrap the waist ties around me. During the event on Saturday, we talked with Christina (see her blog here) and she showed us one of her in progress Regency gowns and our discussion about the construction was quite informative. I have renewed vigor with which to tackle my re-do project!

Solution 3: I will cut off more fabric on each side. What I can’t decide though is if I need to completely take out my side seams. I really really don’t want to because I’m kinda tall and each side seam is a good 45 inches. But this fix also involves detaching the waist band a ways on each side.

Cat 10

I started this dress in May and had it finished June 13. Now I want to make all these alterations in time for another event (this time War of 1812 in Prairie du Chien) on July 19. I’m only working three days a week this summer, so I think this goal is quite achievable.